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Margaret represents insurers in connection with coverage issues and disputes arising under professional liability and general liability insurance policies. Margaret, a certified Legal Lean Sigma Institute (LLSI) White Belt, uses the LLSI process and project management tools to continually improve the value proposition the firm delivers to its clients.

A Pennsylvania federal district court has held that a solo practitioner’s legal malpractice policy did not provide coverage for litigation arising out of several disputes with the attorney’s family because the attorney failed to comply with the policy’s notice provision, certain of the disputes did not arise out of the provision of “Legal Services,” and a number of exclusions applied.  American Guar. & Liability Ins. Co. v. Law Offices of Richard C. Weisberg, 2021 WL 915425 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 9, 2021)
Continue Reading No Coverage Under Legal Malpractice Policy for Solo Practitioner’s Family Disputes

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, applying Pennsylvania law, has held that an insurer is estopped from denying coverage for a legal malpractice action after defending the action for over a year without a reservation of rights, despite knowledge of the facts upon which it ultimately relied to deny coverage.  However, the court also held that the insurer was not estopped from denying coverage for a subsequent action seeking disgorgement of the insured attorney’s fees because the insurer timely reserved rights with respect to the disgorgement action. Westport Ins. Corp. v. McClellan , 2020 WL5961047 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 8, 2020).

Continue Reading Insurer Estopped from Denying Coverage for Legal Malpractice Action But Not Subsequent Disgorgement Action

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, applying Texas law, has held that an insured’s late notice of a claim bars coverage, rejecting arguments that (i) the initial complaint did not constitute a “claim” because it did not allege a “wrongful act;” (ii) notice to the broker was sufficient; and (iii) the issuance of a renewal policy on different terms triggered the automatic extended reporting period. Vela Wood PC v. Associated Indus. Ins. Co., 2020 WL 5440496 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 10, 2020).

Continue Reading Texas Court Holds Late Notice Bars Coverage

In a case in which Wiley represented the insurer, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, applying New York law, has held that three prior knowledge exclusions barred coverage under an architects and engineers professional liability policy as a matter of law where, before the policy period incepted, the insured (1) knew that a pressure vessel in a boiler system which it had serviced had exploded, causing property damage and bodily injury; (2) received three pre-suit letters from potential claimants; and (3) issued two internal litigation holds.  ChemTreat, Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, No. 19-cv-63 (E.D. Va. Sept. 21, 2020).

Continue Reading Prior Knowledge Exclusions Apply Where Insured Received Three Letters from Potential Claimants and Issued Two Litigation Holds Before Policy Incepted

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, applying Georgia law, has held that an insurer has a duty to defend a lawsuit where an award of attorneys’ fees might constitute covered “Loss,” even though the lawsuit did not otherwise seek covered amounts.  AEGIS Elec. & Gas Int’l Serv. Ltd. v. ECI Mgmt. LLC, No. 19-11114, 2020 WL 4359610 (11th Cir. July 30, 2020).

Continue Reading 11th Circuit Holds Insurer Must Defend Lawsuit Where Award of Attorneys’ Fees Was the Only Potentially Covered Relief

The United States District Court of Connecticut, applying federal law, has denied an insured’s motion to dismiss or stay the insurer’s first-filed declaratory judgment action in deference to a subsequently filed, substantially similar coverage action filed by the insured in California state court, holding that the relevant factors weighed in favor of retaining jurisdiction over the first-filed declaratory judgment action.  Continental Cas. Co. v. Phoenix Life Ins. Co., No. 19-cv-1448 (D. Conn. August 10, 2020).

Continue Reading Connecticut Federal Court Declines to Dismiss First-Filed Declaratory Judgment Action in Deference to Insured’s California State Court Action

The United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, applying West Virginia law, has held that claims against a surgery center arising out of medical procedures performed by a doctor while patients were anesthetized, primarily related to alleged sexual abuse, were “related claims” subject to a single limit of liability pursuant to a sexual misconduct endorsement.  Allied World Surplus Lines Ins. Co. v. Day Surgery Ltd. Liab. Co., 2020 WL 1545881 (S.D. W. Va.) (Mar. 31, 2020).  However, the court held that the surgery center’s excess policy, which did not contain a sexual misconduct endorsement, did not cover claims arising solely out of sexual abuse.

Continue Reading Claims Arising Out of Alleged Sexual Abuse by Doctor are “Related Claims” Subject to Single Limit of Liability Under Sexual Misconduct Endorsement

An Illinois intermediate appellate court, applying Illinois law, has held that an insurer must defend an attorney against a malpractice claim seeking damages for alleged negligence in the amount of fees paid to the attorney, concluding that the “legal fees” exclusion in the policy did not apply because the injury suffered by the claimant was not a consequence of the lawyer’s fees.  Illinois State Bar Ass’n Mut. Ins. Co.  v. Canulli, No. 1-19-0142 (Ill. App. Ct. March 13, 2020).

Continue Reading Insurer Must Defend Legal Malpractice Claim for Damages in the Amount of Fees Paid, Despite Carve Out of “Legal Fees” from Definition of “Damages”

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, applying Texas law, has held that an insurer could not deny coverage due to the insured’s failure to comply with “immaterial” conditions of notice, absent a showing of prejudice, where an insured complied with its “material” obligation to report a claim.  Landmark Am. Ins. Co. v. Lonergan Law Firm, P.L.L.C., 2020 WL 833068 (5th Cir. Feb. 19, 2020); Landmark Am. Ins. Co. v. Lonergan Law Firm, P.L.L.C., 2020 WL 3024842 (5th Cir. June 4, 2020) (denying petition for rehearing en banc and issuing substitute opinion).

Continue Reading Absent Prejudice, Breach of Notice Conditions Does Not Relieve Insurer of Coverage Obligations